TRD Special Report:In August 1947, as the first tenants were moving into Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, workers installed a small metal plaque on the west side of its central oval footpath. It was dedicated to Frederick Ecker, president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and developer of the giant housing complex.
Ecker, the plaque read, had “brought into being this project, and others like it, that families of moderate means might live in health, comfort and dignity in parklike communities, and that a pattern might be set of private enterprise productively devoted to public service.” The inscription became a mantra for the 11,200-apartment complex, which, even as Manhattan became increasingly unaffordable, remained a rent-stabilized oasis for the middle class.
But in 2002, the plaque was quietly removed. Four years later, MetLife sold Stuy Town to developer Tishman Speyer and fund manager BlackRock, who planned to aggressively convert units to market-rate. Families of moderate means were suddenly of low priority. [more]